The Life Career Rainbow

Finding a Work/Life Balance That Suits You

The Life Career Rainbow

© iStockphoto

Just as we move through different stages in our life, so we also move through different stages in our career. And just as demands for our time in our personal life can vary, so can demands at work.

When peaks of demand in one area match troughs in another, life can be good. However, when demands are in synch we can experience dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, depression and a whole host of other ills. This makes it important to find an appropriate balance between your career and your life.

In 1980, Donald Super introduced a theory that describes career development in terms of Life Stages and Life Roles. Super's original work on career development began in the 1930s and he wrote his defining book, "The Psychology of Careers," in 1957. He modified his theories in 1980 to account for the fact that people were no longer continuing on a straight path of career development.

Super called this theory the "Life Career Rainbow." The Life Career Rainbow represented in this article is adapted from Super's work to further take account of modern career life patterns.

Here, we look at how you can use the Life Career Rainbow to find the work/life balance that suits you at this stage of your life and career.

Understanding the Model

The Life Career Rainbow (see figure 1 below) helps us think about the different roles we play at different times in our life.

"Life Roles" are represented by the colored bands of the rainbow, shown in the diagram below. Age is shown by the numbers around the edge of the rainbow. And the amount of time typically taken with each life role is described by the size of the dots in that colored band of the rainbow.

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